Coronavirus Australia live news: chief medical officer says global cases could be 5 to 10 million – latest update

By Luke Henriques-Gomes (now) and Michael McGowan, Matilda Boseley and Josh Taylor (earlier)

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Smartraveller (@Smartraveller)

#Peru has imposed gender-based movement restrictions. Men can only shop for essential supplies on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Women can only do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays. No one can go out on Sundays. Follow @embauslima for flight updates. https://t.co/dvuFIF0EH5 pic.twitter.com/cilj4mcNIp

April 3, 2020

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Laura Jayes (@ljayes)

🚨NSW Treasurer @Dom_Perrottet says the states “will be in a position to waive or defer land tax.... for landlords who pass rent relief on to their tenants in both commercial and retail arrangements” @SkyNewsAust

April 3, 2020

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Amnesty International Australia has backed calls from doctors for the Australian government to release detainees held in immigration detention centres into the community.

Amnesty said close living conditions inside detention centres and “alternative places of detention” – known as Apods, and often commandeered hotels – made social distancing impossible.

“The people being held in places like the Mantra hotel in Preston Victoria, were brought to Australia because they needed urgent medical help. To leave them in a situation where their already fragile health is further imperilled is just cruel,” Amnesty International Australia refugee advisor, Dr Graham Thom, said.

Medical experts have advised the government that these people pose no risk at all if they are housed in the community.

Professor David Isaacs, clinical professor in paediatric infectious diseases at the University of Sydney, wrote a letter – signed by more than 1,200 medical professionals – to the home affairs minister, urging the government to free those held in detention.

“Social distancing measures which are being required of the rest of us simply aren’t possible in Apods where we have evidence of people being crowded in rooms of 20 or more people for extended periods of time.”

“While the response to Covid-19 needs to be speedy and by nature restrict movement, it shouldn’t come at the expense of the most vulnerable people in our community, nor should it be at the expense of Australia’s obligation to upholding basic human rights, like the right to health,” Professor Isaacs’ letter said.

Moz, an Iranian refugee held for seven years in PNG and medevacced to Australia for respiratory care, said detainees in Apods were held inside, in cramped conditions, 24 hours a day.

“There is no space for social distancing. The guards come and go and do not have masks or anything. I am terrified of what will happen in here, and also worried for the health of Australians if this becomes a Covid-19 hotspot.”

Talks between refugee advocacy groups and government on the temporary release of detainees into the community – to live with their families or with advocates who had volunteered to house them – have broken down. The government is planning to move some detainees from detention centres to Apods, taking over larger and larger parts of city hotels.

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